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The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has made two artistic appointments following auditions with candidates from around the world. American John Whitener (29) has been made Principal Tuba and New Zealand-born Francesca Hunt (26) has joined the viola section.
John Whitener, one of 81 candidates who applied for the position, replaces Philip Hore, who retired in June 2008. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia; the Juilliard School of Music, New York and the Rotterdam Codarts Conservatory. While in the Netherlands he worked with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Flemish Radio Orchestras. In the summer, he performed with the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez.
Violist Francesca Hunt, selected from 77 applicants, studied for her Bachelor of Music at Victoria University School of Music in Wellington, New Zealand, during which time she performed frequently with professional orchestras. In 2006, she moved to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While in London, she gained a place on the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Future Firsts training scheme and worked regularly as an extra player for orchestras including the LPO, RPO and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Both players are delighted to be joining the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Whitener describing it as ‘the highlight’ of his career. RSNO Music Director Stéphane Denève looks forward to working with them, saying: ‘They will now add their musical talent and fresh enthusiasm to the RSNO and this will continue to develop the excellence and the bright future of Scotland’s national orchestra.’ Whitener took up his position on 12 November, and Hunt joined the Orchestra officially at the beginning of the season.